On Friday, December 9, I was supposed to go to my November group’s “Meet the Babies” party. I was a bit of a poor sport, and decided to make myself a private appointment with my midwife, Noreen instead. I knew that seeing the other moms with their new babies would put me spiraling into a hissy fit since I, 41 weeks and 6 days pregnant, did not yet *have* a baby.
I was checked and found to be 2-3 cm on the exterior os, and still closed on the inside. Noreen stretched me as much as she could, but couldn’t get to the amniotic sac to do a membrane sweep. She sent me home with a vial of verbena and instructions on how to do the “cocktail”. Basically it’s drinking castor oil, but by taking the verbena first, you don’t spend your day on the toilet.
Saturday, December 10, I took the first dose at 9 am. I was to repeat again in 5 hours if I wasn’t in labour. It was 4 o’clock by the time I remembered, so I decided not to do the second dose and risk being up all night. I had plans anyways to go to my mum’s house to help decorate the Christmas tree. My contractions started while I was over there. We were eating supper around 7 pm when I had to stop chewing to get through them. They weren’t regular yet, but they were a good 45 seconds to a minute long and anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes apart. By 8 o’clock, I was having to breathe through them, so I packed up Lyra and took her home. Driving through contractions in the dark (when you have bad night vision) is a bit on the scary side.
We put Lyra to bed, and I spent most of the night in the living room, draped over my yoga ball. Rocking into it eased the pains of the contractions, so I slept on the living room floor, waking every 5 minutes to get through the next one. I tried my absolute best to rest as much as I could between contractions and preserve my energy.
December 11, at 7 a.m. It felt like things were picking up. My contractions were 4-5 minutes apart and a minute to a minute and fifteen seconds long. I called my friend and doula Tayla to come over. We spent a few hours at home in labourland, but things didn’t seem to be picking up anymore, so we took a walk to Starbucks for lattes. Along the way there and back, I was contracting every 3-4 minutes, so when we got back to my house we called Noreen to come over and check on me. It was around 2 pm when Noreen got here, and checked me. I was devastated when she told me I was still only 3 cm. She left, but kept all her equipment at my house for when it was time.
At this point I was getting exhausted and just wanted to rest instead of push things along, so I got in the bath and sobbed quietly to myself.I sent Tayla home, then went upstairs and took a nap, awaking every 4-5 minutes to hum and rock through the contractions. By the evening it seemed that they were picking up again, so Chris called my mum to come pick up Lyra and take her to her house for the night. It was her very first night away from home (and she loved every second of it). I labored though seemingly intense contractions through the night, and at 3 am, I felt like I was in an active pattern, so I had Chris call Noreen.
She arrived an hour later and checked baby’s heart rate then did another internal. She looked at me with sadness in her yes and said “3 centimeters”. And I lost it. I had been labouring for 30 odd hours with absolutely NO progress. All I had to show for all my hard work was that my knees and elbows were rubbed raw from rocking back and forth on the floor on my knees. I was exhausted. I was beginning to feel defeated. I just wanted to rest.
I drew myself another bath and sat in the tub for a couple hours, returning to bed to rest as best I could. Still awaking every 4-5 minutes to contract, and falling asleep between them. I just couldn’t keep my eyes open.
December 12, 2011, Chris had to get up and go pick Lyra up from my mum’s and take her to her dayhome. Those couple hours I was alone were very difficult. I drew myself yet another bath and alternated between lying in there and sitting on the toilet. I was beginning to feel pressure in my back and pelvis with the contractions. That got lost on me. I was beginning to feel as if I was broken- my dilation knob stuck on 3, exactly as it had been with Lyra. I started to feel angry, and with my contractions I was yelling and growling.
I made the decision to call Noreen around lunchtime to come check one last time. If there as still no progress, I was wanting to go to the hospital for some pain relief, as I was absolutely exhausted and just couldn’t do it anymore. She arrived shortly after noon. I laid out the chux pad on the sofa and let her do her check. She looked at me with a little smile and said “Oh happy day!”, I looked at her with a “annnnndddd…” look and she told me I was 6-7 cm, and easily stretchable to 8 cm. Then I felt a little wet and she said “and there went your water all over your couch”.
My angry contractions that I had been having weren’t just me being frustrated and angry. I was in active labour during that time. Hearing that things were going normally was the most wonderful news I could have possibly heard. And I cried. I broke down into tears to the point of almost hyperventilation, I was so happy. Noreen got on the phone immediately and called Ava, her back-up. Ava was working, and wasn’t available till after 4, and Noreen predicted it would be a close call and that she might not make it in time and asked if I had met any of the other midwives in the city and if I had a preference as to which she should call if Ava would’t make it. I didn’t care- I was 6-7 cm dilated! (LOL)
I texted Tayla to let her know if would be soon, and she came right over.
Noreen suggested it was probably time to get the pool filled. Chris had inflated it earlier, but put on pots of water to boil in case the hot water tank couldn’t do the job on it’s own. I hopped in as soon as it was half filled and it really did feel amazing to be able to completely submerge myself. It was about 2 pm, we checked again and I was 8 cm. This began the most trying period of my labour. My contractions were coming two at a time, I’d get about 30 seconds of rest between them, and they’d start all over again. I was starting to get irritable. I could no longer control the sounds I was making, and I was getting a little panicked. Noreen had to talk me into a meditative state- she had me let my body sink down into the pool, and to force myself to let go, to let my limbs go limp and to let to contractions was over me. This worked about half of the time. The other half of the time I spent screaming and making animal sounds. I think it was around 3 pm when I growled at the baby to GEEEETTTTT OOOOUUUT. I believe I was around 9 cm at that point.
Around 4 PM, I had another check and I was nearly completely dilated, with just a paper thin rim of cervix left. Noreen asked if I wanted help to get it out of the way, and she had me give a few little pushes as she slid the little rim past the baby’s head. At shortly after 4, I was told I was complete and could start pushing. I was able to rest for a short period, and I did take about 5 to 10 minutes to just lie and enjoy the relatively pain-free time between transition and second stage.
Then my urge to push hit me, and the next thing I know, I had thrown myself over the edge of the pool and was making sounds I didn’t know were humanly possible to make and was pushing harder than I ever thought was possible. Around this same time, my mum had arrived as she was going to go pick Lyra up from her dayhome. I heard her sobbing as she came into the house and she sat next to the pool telling me how proud of me she was. It was the little push I needed to get serious about.. Well.. Pushing.. We ended up being able to make arrangements for Tracy, her DCP to drop Lyra off so everybody could stay.
I experimented with some pushing positions, starting with leaning over the edge of the pool, then squatting, and then finally I settled into an assisted squat, with me reclining. After about half an hour of pushing, Noreen could begin to see the baby’s head. She told me to reach down and feel it. Touching that little wrinkly patch of fuzzy head was just what I needed to kick it into high gear. With the next contraction, I threw myself into the side of the pool again, was gnawing on a towel and growling all while pushing furiously.
With the next contraction, I had gone back into the supported squat, and I felt Noreen’s hands pushing on me as I was pushing on the baby, and then I felt it the “ring of fire”. For the first time in active labour I swore- “IT FUCKING BUUUUUURNS”. Noreen laughed and said that was a very accurate description. Then asked me to give one big giant push. I pushed as hard as I could and felt outrageous pressure and stinging as the baby’s head popped out. Noreen helped to deliver the shoulders with the next push, and with the very last, Chris held out his hands to catch our daughter as the rest of her body slid out at 9 minutes after 5. Our Olive Isis Staples.
He put her on my chest and I can’ even begin to describe the emotions I felt. I was so elated. I had just ended 42 weeks of pregnancy and 46 hours of labour by birthing my baby in a pool on my living room floor. I just had my successful VBAC baby! Noreen covered her with a towel to keep her warm while we waited for the cord to stop pulsing. After a few minutes, it had turned from blue and rigid to white and flaccid, and she clamped it, and I asked my mum if she would like to cut it. She did so with pleasure, and I was given a shot of pitocin to help deliver the placenta. Normally a physiological third stage is Noreen’s preference, but my iron levels had been quite low and we didn’t want to risk a hemorrhage. I delivered the placenta at 5:27. Noreen put it in a pan and examined it, showing me all the parts, and stretching out the membranes to show how strong they are.
Then I was helped out of the pool to be checked out, and Ava took the baby to weight and measure her. Damage to me was minimal. I had two small first degree tears in the vaginal wall, which were repaired with two sutures. Olive’s apgars were recorded as 10/10/10 at 1, 2 and 5 minutes. She weighed in at 7 pounds, 10 ounces and 20”. She was definitely ripe, with only a trace of vernix in her hair, very wrinkly hands and feet, and very long fingernails. Her skin is a little dry and peeling, but she is a very healthy and robust newborn
I was helped into some depends and I put my robe on to hold her skin to skin and try to nurse her. She has a perfect latch right from the get-go and nursed for about 15 minutes. She was alert for about 2 hours after her birth and then got sleepy, so I took that opportunity to eat, and then we went to bed. She woke up once at midnight to nurse and she had a big poop. She awoke again at 2:30 to nurse again, then slept through until 7 am, but we laid in bed nursing and relaxing until about 9.